4 Quick Facts You Missed About the Book of Acts
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Let’s review 4 quick facts you missed in the Book of Acts.
I. Book of Acts and the Geographical Advance of the Gospel
II. Acts of the Apostle and Judas
III. Acts Reveals the Apostolic Persecution
IV. Historical Context Found Nowhere Else
V. Don’t get too Focused on Signs and Wonders
Book of Acts and the Geographical Advance of the Gospel
This book of the Holy Bible is critical with respect to understanding not only the beginning of the spread of the gospel, but also Jesus’s words previously. If there is a book of “action” in the New Testament, this writing fits the bill.
Unlike the other New Testament writings, this is a historical narrative which outlines the very early church. Of course, 300 years after this time, a Roman Emperor would get hold of the movement and then a “Pope” appears.
Popery and Catholicism strangle the truth of scripture for more than 1,100 years before one of the monks, Martin Luther, started the protestant revolution.
There is little doubt that ‘Scripture builds on Scripture.’ It is imperative to understand history (Acts) as well as the theological points made in the Gospels.
One of the simple yet profound questions is: “how does this portion of the Book of Acts (1:8) develop the geographical and ethnic advance of the gospel”?
Here is what Acts 1:8 says:
To understand this, let’s review both the gospels of Matthew and John. These explain Jesus’s view on both the ethnic and geographic advance of His Word.
First, in the Gospel of Matthew, a woman came to Jesus and pleaded for His mercy (Matthew 15:22-28). Due to her being a Canaanite, Jesus responded: “I came for the lost house of Israel first.”
Jesus, however, granted the woman’s request based on her faith.
There is another item which provides a clearer indication of the importance of Acts 1:8. In the Gospel of John, Jesus made a statement revealing the further extent of His gospel message.
Although Jesus said Israel was His initial concern, He later added: “I have other sheep not of this fold to attend to. They are not of this fold but will be and under one shepherd” (John 10:16).
When Acts 1:8 is understood in conjunction with both Matthew 15:22-28, and John 10:16, it reveals while Jesus came first to Israel, His mission was more extensive.
Acts 1:8, therefore, is the prophetic fulfillment of a few of Jesus’s pre-resurrection promises.
In fact, the Book of Acts must be viewed as the beginning of the work that Jesus established in the Gospels. For that gospel to be preached both in Jerusalem and worldwide, some form of foundational church governance had to be established.
Acts of the Apostles and Judas
As Acts 1 indicates, there was a need for Judas Iscariot to be replaced after his suicide. Lots were cast to determine a replacement and it fell to a man named Mathias.
The first chapter of Acts, the stage for everything which came after historically, culturally, and theologically was set.
There are seven distinct themes which overlap in the first seven chapters of Acts. Although it was suggested I watch a presentation to determine what those things are, after reading the author's (Gerard) thoughts, these became self-evident.
The first, outlined in chapter 1, is the mission beginning in Jerusalem. We learn that after Jesus spoke His final words, the Apostles went back to Jerusalem. The theme in chapter 2 was the birth of the New Testament church.
In this chapter the well-known Pentecost event occurred as well (Acts 2:1-4):
Once the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles, the text says they spoke in other tongues. This was the promised ‘comforter’ sent by Jesus Christ. This officially began the worldwide ministry of Jesus.
The church had now begun.
The third theme, in Acts chapter 3, was the miracle in the temple. After receiving final commands from Jesus, in Acts chapter 1, and then experiencing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2, chapter 3 reveals a miracle of healing.
After Jesus’s ascension, the Apostles performed some of the same miracles as He had. This was important for several reasons. First, it reassured them that although Jesus was gone, His power still rested on them.
Second, it allowed other people to see that the power of God rested with these followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Third, others who were not from Jerusalem could carry stories of miracles back to their own country.
Testimony then became a part of church building in Acts.
Acts Reveals the Apostolic Persecution
The fourth theme was the effort made by the Apostles and the persecution they suffered. A bigger theme was their response to this persecution. There was a boldness in the early church lacking today.
Religious leaders persecuted the Apostles, yet they kept on pressing to establish the New Testament church. This is why believers too frightened to speak boldly for Jesus are never effective.
When this line of thought is brought to the American version of the church, we now understand why we are not bold. There’s virtually no persecution of the church from outside sources.
This applies to America and I’m not speaking of other countries. As a church leader and prophet of the Most High God, the persecution I receive, in its entirety, comes from within.
I remember reading these were of Jesus when I first became saved:
At the time, I was teaching myself to memorize Scripture. That didn’t go very well even 20+ years on.
Nevertheless, I focused on verse 12 which indicates true followers of Jesus will be persecuted. Since I hadn’t yet grasped the entirety of this chapter, I made dangerous assumptions.
The biggest error-prone consumption I made was that this persecution would come from outside of the church. When you read this chapter in its entirety, it is clear the persecution the apostle suffered was within.
We miss the reality that, and as the apostles found out, persecuted praise is often the most complete.
The fifth theme was something Ger titled Opposition from Within and Without. As was discussed with respect to the previous theme, we know there was opposition against the Jesus movement.
It was interesting that Israel waited for its Messiah since the prophetic pronouncement a few thousand years prior.
Yet when he showed up, the main opposition to Jesus, who is followers call Christ, were fellow religious Jews who awaited His coming. His disciples would encounter like opposition in the book of acts is well.
We cannot forget that Jesus warned them of this eventuality (Matthew 10:22-24):
In and around Jerusalem, the early church was known as ‘the way.’
However, withering opposition, which began with the Sadducees and other religious leaders, continued after Jesus’ ascension.
In chapter 5, at least two Christians, Ananias and Sapphira, presented opposition to the mission of Jesus by committing sin. Their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cost them their lives.
The sixth theme was the first Christian martyr: Stephen.
In this chapter, this young Christian gave the most eloquent case for the Messiahship of Jesus in the New Testament. Through Stephen’s murder, early believers learned that being arrested and beaten is not the extent of the sacrifice they would be called to make.
The seventh theme (Chapter 7) is the witness of the second known Deacon in the young church: Phillip. Philip’s witness, outside Jerusalem, demonstrates that the gospel, as intended by Jesus, was moving beyond the borders of Jerusalem.
Historical Context Found Nowhere Else
The Book of Acts provides historical context, on the early church, available nowhere else in the Bible.
Its’ thematic tones, which seem to change often, provide a cogent picture of church development.
Just as crucially, it further reveals the personalities involved in the mission. However, the Book of Acts also serves a higher function than revelatory history. The book encourages a boldness in mission that is relevant today as well.
When I see the persecution of those early Saints, it forces an introspection of my walk. I wonder if there are times when I am not as bold as I need to be. It further challenges me in what I am willing to lose for the cause of Jesus Christ.
It further indicates that if we are not willing to sacrifice, there is no use in ‘getting in the ring.’ One of the more impactful stories, to me anyway, was the steadfastness of Paul and Silas.
After being arrested, and given the opportunity to escape jail, they remained!
This resulted in the salvation of the very jailer who kept them incarcerated.
Although prisoners, they provided freedom to someone else. How is it possible for the enslaved, to free another slave?
Understanding the basics in the Book of Acts is crucial for Believers to grasp our founding. The boldness of the early church deserves commendation and mimicking in today's wicked society.
Don't Get too Focused on Signs and Wonders
Now that we have reviewed some facts in this biblical book, there are spiritual issues to consider as well.
There are certain protestant denominations which put more focus on this book than most others. The reason is this, as well as the Gospel of Mark, is a book of miracles, signs, and wonders.
There is little doubt the church's advancement was recorded in Acts. Anyone who argues to the contrary, are themselves being intentionally contrary.
This book is being elevated at the expense of others. One protestant denomination who does this is Pentecostals. This is among the late 19th and early 20 century churches found on the "charismatic."
Their primary focus is signs and wonders and others who do not focus on such, they believe to be "lost" and headed to hell. Yes, some of my dearest friends in the ministry believe I am headed towards hell!
Recently, I told one what Jesus said: "a wicked generation will seek after a sign and none will be given."
Something interesting is most who argue these points are young men and women. Youth brings with it vigor and hunger to make their "marks in the world." This often means joining causes which are more "action" oriented and less wisdom focused.
This isn't just inside charismatic faith movements either. The Internet is replete with such action based opportunities.
Just such an organization is Infowars headed by conspiracy theorists Alex E. Jones. For those who haven't heard of him, he is the most banned journalist on the Planet! Not because he is wrong but specifically because he is right.
Here is an image of Alex Jones (Photo courtesy of Banned.Video):
Alex is intense, a bully, loud, rude, and domineering to a point of sociopathy. When you look at who are closest to him (staff), ALL are very young and still being formed.
He once had an older man hosting a show named David Knight. For years, I marveled that Knight was with Alex as a featured host. Of course, and as I said for years leading up to it, the relationship wouldn't last.
This is not to say young adults haven't left Alex as well because they have. However, mature adults are much less likely to put up with his abuse and this is the reason most young adults work there.
This is the reason the United States prime recruiting ground for enlisted personnel isn't colleges rather high schools. My saying goes: "get them young form the mind, get them old get left behind."
The same is true of Pentecostals.
Whatever denomination you choose, or not, let's learn from one another because I promise this: we all have it wrong one way or another.
The Book of Acts is a historical document of tremendous significance. Yes, it outlines faith. miracles, and the advance of the early church.
It is also a document, much more than any other New Testament Book, of cold, hard, objective historical presentation. As with all scripture, we must not become overly dependent on this book more than any other, however.
It is written: "for we do know all things work together for the good of them that love God and to the good of them called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28). This begins, and ends with His Word.
It doesn't indicate "some things" but all things and that means in their entirety. Let those who have an ear hear.
The danger when "cherry picking" scripture is incomplete doctrines (denominations) are formed around them. The Book of Acts is no more, or less, important than, say, the Book of Psalms.
Both speak of "salvation" and the Holy Spirit. Granted, doctrinally, we can argue what these mean in those context, but all the same.
In everything, see the God view and understand isolationist doctrine will always bring us to a place of shame.
Header Image Courtesy of Tima Miroshnichenko @ Pexels